Difference Between Obedience and Conformity

Obedience vs Conformity

Obedience and conformity are common social behavior. Human behavior is complex and often affected by the fact of living in a society. Two aspects of behavior have been subject of much study by psychologists and sociologists, and they are obedience and conformity. Man is a social animal and prefers to live in groups. In all groups, conformity and obedience are commonly encountered traits. Just what is the difference between obedience and conformity that have similar connotations? You will have a clearer understanding by the end of the article.


It is an act of following orders coming from an authority without a question. Starting with parents when we are kids, we tend to obey the orders coming from our teachers in school and then from our boss when we are adults. Those who are followers of spiritual leaders perceive him to be a legitimate authority and obey his orders. The authority that these figures have is given to them by the society, and in most cases, obedience is a trait that we tend to develop out of fear, and in some cases out of respect. When we are in school, we never question and do just what teachers ask us to do.

Obedience is a trait that allows human beings to obey laws, belief in God, and follow social norms. Obedience is a virtue that allows schools to be great learning centers as otherwise it would be difficult for a teacher to conduct a class if some students refuse to follow or take orders from the teacher.


Conformity is a trait that makes people behave according to the wishes of others. In a group, people change their beliefs and attitudes to match them with the majority of the group. When you are conforming, you are also being obedient. In order for people to comply, there must be a perceived authority in the group that influences the behavior of the group. Without this authority, it is hard to make members of a group to conform. If a member of the group fails to conform, he faces the wrath of the authority and loses his credibility which is so very important for him. It is this pressure that makes people to conform.

Compliance is seen in everyday life frequently. If we are performing a task that someone has asked us to do, we are complying with his request. The most important feature of compliance is that it is the unwritten code or law of the group and members adhere to the rules to be seen as being part of the group. The most common example of conformity is seen in military where recruits start behaving in much the same manner seeing others.

In obedience, there is a perceived difference of status between the one who obeys and the one who makes the request. On the other hand, it is peer pressure that brings in conformity among the people of a group. In conformity it is the fear of social disapproval that is at work.